Chef Forrest Parker is a visionary with a reputation for calling upon the culture, history and flavor traditions of South Carolina to create heritage-infused dining experiences.
After establishing the acclaimed food tour venture, Undiscovered Charleston, Parker made a solid discovery: He had found the perfect avenue for sharing his wealth of knowledge about Charleston and its storied cuisine in the form of a tour that TripAdvisor readers consistently name one of the top food experience in the world!
A licensed Charleston tour guide, Chef Parker leads participants on a walking tour of the city, then to a bistro where they observe the chef in action as he gives a cooking demonstration. The food is served and pair with wines for an unforgettable Lowcountry lunch experience.
Parker’s innovative dishes, encyclopedic knowledge of South Carolina's culinary roots and commitment to championing the work of heritage food producers also led to his being named a South Carolina Chef Ambassador in 2016.
From shrimp and grits to she crab soup, the dishes he creates are rich in local ingredients that reflect Charleston's past and present.
"As a chef, I draw heavily from a culturally rich Lowcountry history," Parker said. "Our dishes reflect the taste of time and place."
Parker was born and raised in the Upstate, leaving his hometown of Anderson to attend College of Charleston. Like many students living in the food-centric city, he worked part-time in local restaurants and even became a licensed tour guide to supplement his income. In a fateful move, he accepted a position on the team of multiple James Beard Award winner, the late Chef Louis Osteen, who was opening a new dining enterprise.
"To be on the opening team of that restaurant as a young culinarian was such a formative experience," he said. "To work under Louis Osteen changed the course of my life."
Under the guidance of Osteen, Parker hustled and honed his cooking skills, eventually acquiring an expertise that landed him at the helm of kitchens in Minneapolis and Opryland in Nashville. When his wife's career brought them back to Charleston, Parker's culinary interests focused on the emerging local trend toward heirloom foods.
Return to South Carolina
Through his time as executive chef at Old Village Post House in Mount Pleasant, he found yet another iconic mentor in Chef Frank Lee, who worked for the restaurant's parent company and encouraged Parker's exploration of heirloom products. Soon, Parker was developing dishes that won him rave reviews from discriminating diners and food critics.
In 2016, he assumed the lead kitchen role at the Drawing Room at the Vendue Inn. A year later, that restaurant closed to make way for Parker's concept for Revival, which opened after much anticipation in the summer of 2017.
After leaving Revival, he turned his food tour dreams into reality, one that earns consistent raves from Charleston visitors.